College Plans for Spring 2021 Semester

Dear College of Arts & Letters Students, Staff, and Faculty,

As we navigate a very challenging period of uncertainty, I write to provide an update from the College regarding the Spring 2021 semester. This message supplements the communications that were sent last week to the MSU community from President Stanley about the Spring 2021 semester and from Provost Woodruff regarding our planning for teaching and learning experiences in the new calendar year.

As we continue to work directly with program leaders to address the implications of in-person classes for specific academic activities this upcoming spring, it will be important to establish protocols that enable us to provide an enriching experience for all our students. To this end, let me share the following expectations and support initiatives:



Our team of dedicated program advisors are here to help you navigate and answer any questions you have as it pertains to your schedules, classes, career information, remote internships, and more. Please set up an appointment to meet with your advisor through the Student Success Dashboard at Appointments will continue to take place via Zoom video conference. 

Emergency Financial Aid

Through the generosity of our alumni and donors here in the College of Arts & Letters, an emergency fund is available to students who are experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19. To read more about the qualifications and how to apply for this funding, please go to the Emergency Support Fund Form

Graduate Students

Graduate students should contact your unit and department leader for directives in teaching modalities and contingency plans, particularly for those classes that have been designated for in-person instruction. Most of the labs, studios, and performance spaces will continue to be open for teaching and for students needing courses to graduate in May 2021. Should you have any immediate questions, please contact Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Education Bill Hart-Davidson at

International Students 

We are working proactively with the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) to support our international students as you navigate uncertainties concerning travel, families and friends, and your academic programs. Your success and well-being are top priorities for us. At this time, the federal government has not issued guidance on international students taking online courses in Spring 2021. The final guidance issued in July 2020 was specific to Fall 2020. OISS will share updates as they are issued. Here is a link to the most up-to-date information. If you have specific questions about anything related to your studies, please contact our College of Arts & Letters advisors or OISS advisors.  

Staff and Faculty

Remote Teaching & Working

To the extent possible, staff and faculty should work and teach remotely during Spring 2021 for those classes that have not been designated as an in-person class by the Office of the Registrar. We recognize that there are unique circumstances that might make this challenging. For in-person classes, I have asked that the unit leader and the staff/faculty member work together with the Dean’s Office on contingency plans that will prioritize safety and maximize our capacity to establish responsive human connections, in-person and virtually. If you have questions about how best to engage and communicate with students, staff, and faculty, please contact your unit leader.

CAL Academic Technology Team Assistance 

The College of Arts & Letters Academic Technology team is available for individual consultation to assist faculty with conversion of in-person, hybrid courses, and remote teaching for Spring 2021. They will be offering a Spring Readiness Series available the week of January 4-8, 2021. More information about consulting, the Spring Readiness Series, as well as tip sheets and videos are posted regularly at

Student Mental Health Concerns in Courses

Dr. Jonathan Ritz, now serving as the College of Arts & Letters Director of Student Wellness, has created suggestions for faculty to consider when designing and teaching their online courses along with recommendations for ways to identify students who may be in distress and respond to them effectively. To learn how to incorporate these designs into your curriculum, please refer to the remote teaching online resources that have been created for you or contact Dr. Jonathan Ritz directly at

While it is heartening to be moving toward a period when more students can live and learn safely on campus, we are now entering a difficult period with the resurgence of the virus as the days grow colder and winter approaches. As we navigate the challenges we face together, I encourage all of us – students, staff, and faculty – to be patient and generous with one another, drawing intentionally upon the College’s culture of care to sustain us. 


Black signature of Dean Christopher P. Long

Christopher P. Long
Dean, College of Arts & Letters